The 3Arts Awards express our gratitude to Chicago’s women artists, artists of color, and Deaf and disabled artists for their indisputable contributions to the health and vibrancy of our city. Every year, ten artists who live and work in the six-county metropolitan area receive unrestricted $30,000 awards in dance, music, teaching arts, theater, and visual arts. Artists may use the award in any way that makes a difference to their lives and careers, including paying off debt, purchasing equipment, hiring collaborators, producing new work, and saving for the future.
We invite you to read two reports that compile reflections from artists who have received a 3Arts Award:
3Arts awardees are selected through a nomination and jury process. More than 100 artists are nominated annually by at least 35 anonymous local nominators--artists, curators, presenters, and advocates--who are acutely knowledgeable about the breadth of artists working in neighborhoods across the metropolitan area.
After the nominees have completed our online application process, five national, discipline-specific panels of judges convene to select ten awardees from the pool. 3Arts requires judges to disclose conflicts of interest as part of the selection process. If a strong personal or professional relationship exists between a judge and a nominated artist that might be an impediment to the integrity of the process, a full recusal from the discussion and vote is implemented.
In honor of the time and energy it takes to apply, all artists who submit an application will receive a $100 honorarium.
Meet our 2021 judges.
Miguel AguilarVisual Artist Siragusa Foundation Awardee
Artist, educator, and researcher Miguel Aguilar has been painting graffiti in Chicago since 1989. He founded Graffiti Institute in 2012, and in 2013 curated "Outside In: The Mexican-American Street Art Movement in Chicago" at the National Museum of Mexican Art. …
Dee AlexanderVocalist Southwest Airlines Awardee
Born on Chicago’s west side, Dee Alexander is one of Chicago’s most gifted and respected female vocalist/songwriters. Her talents span every music genre, from Gospel to R&B, from Blues to Neo-Soul. Yet her true heart and soul are experienced in …
Heather GilbertLighting Designer
Heather has been a Chicago based lighting designer for 15 years. Recent designs include THE BETTER HALF with Lucky Plush Productions, RENT (ATC/About Face Theatre), and IMMEDIATE FAMILY with Martian Productions. Her work has been seen on many Chicago stages …
Monique HaleyChoreographer McCormick Family Foundation Awardee
Monique Haley is a graduate of The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in performing arts, specializing in jazz dance. Monique completed nine memorable years with the prestigious River North Chicago Dance Company …
Halena Kays is a founding member of the artistic collaborative, The Ruffians, former member of the Big Apple Circus Clown Care unit, past artistic director of The Hypocrites, and former co-artistic curator for Theater on the Lake.
Halena is an …
Lanialoha is a native Hawaiian born and raised in the Chicago area and third generation descendant of the first Polynesians who migrated to the Midwest. Her Grandmother, understanding the dearth of Pacific Island cultural and musical resources available in the …
Harold MendezMultidisciplinary Artist Stan Lipkin & Evelyn Appell Lipkin Awardee
A first-generation American born in Chicago to Colombian and Mexican parents, Harold Mendez works with installation, photography, sculpture and text to reference reconstructions of place and identity. His work addresses the relationships between transnational citizenship, memory and possibility, considering how …
Maria VergaraPainter Chandler Family Artist
Maria Astrid Vergara was born in South America and immigrated to the United States at the age of 12. Her mom sensed her passion for art in middle school and enrolled her in classes at the prestigious School of the …
Described by the New York Times as "a magician, telling tales and creating worlds" and "a fierce and supple performer," Chicago-based choreographer Nejla Yatkin travels around the globe inspiring empathic connection between people and their environments. She creates solos, choreographs …
avery r. youngPoet, Songwriter, Performer Merrill Lynch Awardee
Interdisciplinary artist avery r. young is a 3Arts Award winning teaching artist, composer and producer with work that spans the genres of music, performance, visual arts and literature. Examining and celebrating Black American history and culture, his work also focuses …
Monica Hairston O’Connell
Lowery Stokes Sims